After a particularly brutal winter, the summer months are a welcome shift. For small business owners, the change in seasons should be a reminder to do some cleanup and organization. After long months of building your business model, generating sales and managing your company, it is important to take some time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. With summer around the corner, vacation plans are in full swing, and the pace at work usually slows down. It is the perfect time to organize your business and your finances.
Reevaluating your business operations can help you stay on the right track. Here are ten tips for getting your business finances in shape:
Analyze Your Income and Expenses
Cash flow issues—especially old bills piling up—can keep your company from keeping up with payables. Pay any past due invoices and check your own past due receivables to see who owes you money. As an entrepreneur, with so much going on, it is easy to miss an invoice. A simple phone call or email reminder is usually all it takes to get paid the money you are owed. Be persistent, and if clients keep stalling, eliminate customers who are regularly late. And maybe for once, put together an updated balance sheet.
Look Over Contracts
From your technology systems to paper suppliers, your business probably has several contracts with different services. Each one is an opportunity to renegotiate for significant savings. Even if your contract is not up yet, you can still negotiate based on a potential early-renewal or an increase in services. If there have been any problems with the services, such as appointment no-shows, use that as leverage for a discount.
Get Your Records Together
As a small business owner, you probably have mountains of paperwork waiting to be filed. From invoices to purchase receipts, these documents are essential records for your business. File everything away or scan the documents and file them electronically so you’ll have everything at your fingertips when it is time to complete your taxes.
If you rely on accounting software, such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks, to manage your business’ finances, you may have missed important program updates. Most companies update their software every year, and if you are using the old version, you may not have new essential features. Consider using Bench or inDinero as newer, fresher, alternatives to traditional accounting software. Through personal experience, I can attest that managed accounting software can save you quite a bit of time and headache.
File Quarterly Reports
Many small business owners are shocked by quarterly and self-employment taxes. The next quarterly payment is due June 15, so now’s the time to review your income statements and expenses. If you’ve missed a deadline, talk to your CPA about how much to pay for the next tax period to minimize any penalties.
Hire Fresh Talent
Summer is the perfect time to refresh your workforce. It is college graduation season and thousands of newly minted graduates are looking for entry level employment. Hiring recent graduates can be a great way to refresh ideas, processes, and culture at your small business. And, hiring to graduates is significantly cheaper than experienced employees. Hiring graduates is competitive. Hiring millennials is much different than hiring from previous generations. You should consider thinking outside the box with unique benefits and job responsibilities. Millennials are looking to make an impact and they might be able to give your small business a fresh boost.
Review Pricing Structure
Pricing is one of the most challenging areas for a new business. If you price too low, you give the impression of substandard quality. Too high, and you’ll lose out on customers. As your company has grown, you likely negotiated special deals or discounts with clients and, as a result, your pricing structure is irregular. Compare your services and costs those of your competitors to see what you should be charging.
Check Subscriptions and services
Over time, you may have signed up for programs or services that made your life simpler for an individual project, then have gone unused and forgotten. These recurring subscriptions add up, so take some time to review your statements and cancel any subscriptions you and your staff do not use regularly. Use tools like Trim or Truebill to find and remove unwanted subscriptions.
Set New Goals
Since the summer is usually slower, it is a perfect opportunity to do some planning and a mid-year checkpoint. Evaluate how much progress you have made, where you flourished and where you struggled and establish new goals for the rest of the year. Looking at your income receivables will help give you concrete targets for the next six months.
If your business has been performing well, you should start planning how to scale up your business operations. Expanding and growing your capacity requires money, and many small businesses rely on credit to meet their needs. If you’ve been relying on your personal credit card and bank accounts, it is time to break away and open up a business checking and credit account. The credit card can give you much needed liquidity in times of emergency or opportunity so you can be nimble and respond to new challenges.
Entrepreneurs often find creative ways to get things done, often on the cheap with no budget at all. While the do-it-yourself route can be useful when building your business, it is not always the most efficient. Use the summer months to research and learn new processes or programs to streamline your operations, whether it is new software that manages inventory or a more secure online store. With Cloud technology, many of your programs and accounts can be synced together and automated, reducing the amount of time you spend on administrative work.
If you find yourself with a smaller to-do list than usual, take advantage of the slow period and spruce up your finances and business operations. Eliminate distractions by turning off your phone, closing your email and shutting your office door, so you have the time and space to get organized and create a more efficient and cost-effective work environment. It takes a conscious effort and dedication to go through your accounts, processes and forms, but the commitment can produce high returns and set you up for a successful second half of the year.
By Nate Matherson